Wilms' tumor 1 (Wt1) encodes a zinc finger nuclear transcription factor which is mutated in 15–20% of Wilms' tumor, a pediatric kidney tumor. Wt1 has been found to be involved in the development of many organs. In gonads, Wt1 is expressed in genital ridge somatic cells before sex determination, and its expression is maintained in Sertoli cells and granulosa cells after sex determination. It has been demonstrated that Wt1 is required for the survival of the genital ridge cells. Homozygous mutation of Wt1 causes gonad agenesis. Recent studies find that Wt1 plays important roles in lineage specification and maintenance of gonad somatic cells. In this review, we will summarize the recent research works about Wt1 in gonadal somatic cell differentiation.
Wt1 is indispensable for somatic cell differentiation and gonad development at different developmental stages.